Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mississippi National Forests Pull Travel Plan

With the “paperwork” avalanche cascading down on the OHV community via numerous travel planning processes on various National Forests throughout the country, I want to report a recent land-use victory regarding the Travel Management Project for the Mississippi National Forests.

A Jan. 30 News Release by the BlueRibbon Coalition

The news release simply states that the agency is “…withdrawing the decision to allow consideration for additional analysis to be documented in the project record.”

Major Kudos should be going to the Memphis Motorcycle Club, the BRC, and the AMA for appealing the Forest’s final decision to not designate basically ANY of the historic user routes which came about through legal means when the Forest had an “Open” for cross-country travel prescription.

This decision could have an impact on the decision-making process on units such as the Shasta-Trinity National Forest that recently came out with a proposed action that functionally closes almost all of the historic trails (many of which I ride on and so do the Redding Dirt Riders) on the Forest.

When a Forest arbitrarily dismisses all of the historic and popular OHV routes (some routes even have carsonite trail or road numbers) that came into existence in a legal manner when that unit had an “Open” designation, the agency creates distrust with the users and lays a poor foundation upon which to build a quality trail recreation program. Ill-conceived and arbitrary final agency actions will only create future management and enforcement problems.

The General reminds the troops to stay engaged in the process. Strongly advocate for a reasonable range of alternatives… some of which should include historic and important user created (unauthorized) routes. Develop and propose your own “citizen’s or club” alternative like the Memphis club did. If you participate in the administrative planning process you are in a position to appeal (and sometimes win) onerous decisions that are unfair and unacceptable.

Last year, the BRC and Del Norte County appealed an unreasonable Forest Service decision that arbitrary closed a number of historic jeep routes in the Smith River National Recreation Area. That unit has also pulled the decision and is undergoing a new planning effort… an effort that hopefully treats the local county officials and OHV users with more respect.

News Release on Smith River NRA 2008 Appeal

Photo by Don Amador – Rider is Mark Story, Land Use Hero from the Memphis Motorcycle Club
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